MANILA -- Reorganizing the government and adopting a federal system will cost around P13.5 billion, President Rodrigo Duterte’s drafting committee said Monday, insisting figures floated by his economic managers did not accurately reflect provisions of its proposed constitution.
The committee crunched the numbers seeking to dispute a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimate that shifting to federalism could cost as much as P243.5 billion.
"They are retaining the entire bureaucracy of the national government and creating a new bureaucracy, but that is not the design of concom," said committee spokesman Conrado Generoso.
He said the committee was "in the best position to compute the cost."
Assuming the NEDA projection was accurate, he said the government could still afford it based on the annual increase in the national budget.
"Kayang-kaya (It can be done)," he said.
The national budget has increased by at least P250 billion yearly since 2014, according to a study by the Manila-based think tank Center for National Budget.
The biggest adjustment came in this year’s national budget, which increased by P417 billion. Next year’s proposed budget is lower by P9.9 billion.
The committee’ estimated P13.5-billion cost of a federal shift does not include the additional amount to create 3 more federal courts aside from the existing Supreme Court.
It covers only the cost of electing an additional 12 senators (P2.9 billion), 108 new members of an expanded House of Representatives (P4.06 billion), and 450 new regional assemblymen (P1.08 billion).
The estimated amount will also cover additional salaries and operational expenses for the federated regions (P3.6 billion), and a P1-billion budget for the Federal Intergovernmental Commission.
This new body will handle the proposed "equalization fund," which poorer regions can tap into to assist economic growth.
"The design of concom is once you turn over the functions... the implementation of the programs and projects from the regional office of the national government to the regional government," Generoso said.
"Then, the initial option is for all the employees doing those functions to be absorbed by the regional government," he said.
Using 2017 figures, he said the federal government would keep around P2.3 trillion of the total budget while P1.1 trillion would go to the 18 federated regions.
The committee decided to keep much of the budget in the federal government because it would exercise at least 22 exclusive powers such as national defense and security, foreign affairs, and monetary policy.